types of assessment accommodations

Let Students Practice Using Assessment Accommodation Tools

By Bernard Merkel, Rubicon International

With the computerization of student assessment, all sorts of new possibilities exist for students who might need additional tools to assist them to successfully complete these assessments. Each assessment vendor provides different types of assessment accommodations for students when taking computerized assessment (PARCC, Smarter Balanced, ACT, e.g.).

Some types of student assessment accommodations are “universal tools,” where any student can use any specific tool, while other accommodations are “designated supports” for specific features available for students identified by an educator. Additionally, there is a class of assessment accommodation tools known as “documented accommodations,” which are changes in the assessment for students who are in an IEP or 504 plan.

Universal Tools
  • Digital notepad
  • English dictionary
  • Expandable passages
  • Highlighter
  • Keyboard navigation
  • Thesaurus
  • Zoom
Designated Supports
  • Color contrast
  • Text-to-speech
  • Mouse pointer
  • Translations
Documented Accommodations
  • Amplification
  • Bilingual dictionary
  • Color contrast
  • Magnification
  • Read aloud
  • Scribe

Information about the types of assessment accommodations, as well as rules and guidelines, are often available on Departments of Education websites or on the assessment providers’ websites. For example, the Departments of Education in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New York publish this information, as well as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and NWEA, which specifically list assessment accommodation tools falling under each category.

Assessment Accommodation Tools & The Importance of Practice

It is recommended that teachers and schools introduce these tools to students prior to their usage of them in the actual assessment. This is not teaching to the test, but rather ensuring students have the skills necessary to demonstrate their knowledge. At a minimum, students can be introduced to assessment accommodation tools in the weeks leading up to an assessment. However, we are finding that schools document assessment accommodations in curriculum and make them a regular aspect of students’ learning, as many of these tools are already applied in the classroom.

Using Atlas, there are different ways that a teacher can keep track of some of the types of assessment accommodations students may be introduced to during their units. While not all assessment accommodation tools may be introduced with students (many of the tools can be very individualized), some of the more universal tools should be introduced throughout the year, when relevant.

The following options provide some examples of how Atlas schools can keep track of which testing accommodations they use.

Tracking Assessment Accommodations in Curriculum

One way that Atlas can help you document accommodation efforts is through capturing assessment accommodation tools used throughout a unit. You can see an example of this in the image below.

Using this type of tracking, a teacher can select the specific accommodations that will be used during the unit. Atlas will provide the school reports on which units use the different types of testing accommodations and ensuring most are covered throughout and across years.

Assessment Accommodation

Another way that Atlas can help you document accommodation efforts is by linking these accommodations with a particular assessment to ensure maximum exposure to a tool prior to a high stakes test. You can see an example of this in the image below.

This reporting is more intentional and provides stronger reporting on where and how those accommodations are used in a specific assessment. The reports will provide how many times the accommodation has been selected and show which ones have not been used.

Assessment Accommodation

As student assessment continues to evolve in the new technology focused world, new accommodations and options will be available (virtual reality, anyone?). While students’ daily technology use means that many students inherently understand how to use these tools, using them recreationally versus using them with a specific meaning behind them will become an important distinction. As such, putting more thought into students’ experience with – and exposure to – accommodation options for online testing is a crucial skill to cultivate before big tests.

If you’re interested in adding similar categories to your school’s template, reach out to our Support team. And if you’re not (yet!) an Atlas client, learn more about the curriculum mapping platform featured in this blog.

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